324 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [ciI. X.
The apostle, in these words, winds up his whole argument against
the wilful despisers of the gospel, taken from the nature and aggrava-
tions of that sin, with the severity of the punishment that would cer-
tainly befal them that are guilty thereof. And these words are, as an
inference from them that go immediately before, so they are a recapitu-
lation of all that he had spoken to this purpose. Let men look to
it, look to themselves, consider what they do, for 'it is a fearful
There are three things in the words. 1. The description given of
God with respect unto the present case, ' he is the living God.' 2.
The event of their sin with respect unto him : it is ' a falling into his
hands.' 3. The nature hereof in general : ' it is a fearful thing.'
1. In what sense God is called the Qtov £wiroe, 'living God,' and
with respect unto what ends, hath been declared on ch. iii. 12, ix. 14.
In brief, this title is ascribed unto God principally on two accounts. 1.
By way of opposition unto all dead and dumb idols, those whom the
heathen worshipped ; and which are graphically described by the
Psalmist, Ps. cxv. 4 — 8, as also by the prophet, Isa. xliv. 9 — 11, &c.
And this is to impress upon our minds a due sense of his glory, and
eternal power, according as we are called to trust in him or to fear him.
Life is the foundation of power. He who hath life in himself, who is
the cause of all life in all other things that are partakers of it, must be
the only spring of infinite power. But God is here called ' the living
God,' with respect unto his eternal powei', whereby he is able to avenge
the sins of men. Indeed it calls to mind all the other holy properties
of his nature, which are suited to impress dread or terror on the minds
of presumptuous sinners, whose punishment is thence demonstrated to
be unavoidable. He sees, and knows all the evil and malice that is in
their sin, and the circumstances of it. He is the God that liveth and
seeth, Gen. xvi. 13. And as he seeth, so he judgeth, because he is the
living God, which also is the ground of holy trust in him. 1 Tim.
Obs. VII. This name of 'the living God,' is full of terror or com-
fort unto the souls of men.
2. The event of the sin spoken against, as unto its demerit, with re-
spect unto God, is called ' falling into his hands,' ejurrtaeiv tig ^ttpac-
The assertion is general, but particularly applied unto this case by the
apostle. To ' fall into the hands' is a common expression with refe-
rence unto any one falling into and under the power of his enemies.
None can be said to ' fall into the hands of God,' as though they were
not before in his power. But to fall into the hands of God absolutely,
as it is here intended, is to be obnoxious to the power and judgment of
God, when and where there is nothing in God himself, nothing in his
word, promises, laws, institutions, that should oblige him to mercy, or a
mitigation of punishment. So when a man falls into the hands of his
enemies, between whom and him there is no law, no love, he can expect
nothing but death. Such is this falling into the hands of the living
God ; there is nothing in the law, nothing in the gospel, that can be
pleaded for the least abatement of punishment. There is no property
of God that can be implored : it is the destruction of the sinner alone,
whereby they will all be glorified.
VER. oO ; 81.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 825
There is a falling into the hands of God that respects temporal things
only, and that is spoken of comparatively. When David knew that an
affliction or temporal punishment was unavoidable, he chose rather to
fall into the hands of God, as unto the immediate infliction of it, than
to have the wrath of men used as the instruments thereof, 2 Sam.
xxiy. 17. But this appertains not unto our present purpose.
3. Hereof the apostle affirms in general, that it is 0o€tpov, ' a fear-
ful, dreadful thing,' that which no heart can conceive, nor tongue ex-
press. Men are apt to put oft' thoughts of it, to have slight thoughts
about it ; but it is, and will be dreadful, terrible, and eternally destruc-
tive of every thing that is good, and inflictive of every thing that is evil,
or that our nature is capable of.
Obs VIII. There is an apprehension of the terror of the Lord in
the final judgment, which is of great use unto the souls of men, 2 Cor.
v. 11. It is so to them who are not yet irrecoverably engaged into the
effects of it.
Obs. IX. When there is nothing left of judgment, nothing remains
but the expectation of it, its fore-apprehension will be filled with dread
Obs. X. The dread of the final judgment, where there shall be no
mixture of ease, is altogether inexpressible.
Obs. XI. That man is lost for ever, who hath nothing in God that
he can appeal unto ; nothing in the law or gospel which he can plead
for himself; which is the state of all wilful apostates.
Obs. XII. Those properties of God which are the principal delight
of believers, the chief object of their faith, hope, and trust, are an eter-
nal spring of dread and terror unto all impenitent sinners : ' the living
Obs. XIII. The glory and honour of the future state of blessedness
and misery, are inconceivable either to believers or sinners.
Obs. XIV. The fear and dread of God, in the description of his
wrath, ought continually to be on the hearts of all who profess the
Herein, by this general assertion, the apostle sums up and closeth his
blessed discourse concerning the greatest sin that men can make them-
selves guilty of, and the greatest punishment that the righteousness of
God will inflict on any sinners. Nor is there any reaching of either
part of this divine discourse unto the utmost. When he treats of this
sin, and its aggravations, no mind is able to search into, no heart is
able truly to apprehend the evil and guilt which he chargeth it withal.
No one can express or declare the least part of the evil which is com-
prised in every aggravation which he gives us of this sin. And in like
manner, concerning the punishment of it, he plainly intimates, it shall
be accompanied with an incomprehensible severity, dread, and terror.
This therefore is a passage of holy writ which is much to be considered,
especially in these days wherein we live, wherein men are apt to grow
cold and careless in their profession, and to decline gradually from
what they had attained unto. To be useful in such a season, it was
first written ; and belongs unto us, no less than unto them unto whom
it was first originally sent. And we live in days wherein the security
326 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. X.
and contempt of God, the despite of the Lord Christ and his Spirit, are
come to the full, so as to justify the truth that we have insisted on.
Ver. 32 — 34. AvafiifivrjrrKEcrSe Ss ragirporepov rifiepag, ev aig (pioTicr-
Ssvtzq, 7roXXr)v ad\y)oiv vTrtjuavaTt Tra^r^fxarwv' Tovto pev, oveiEia-
fjioig re kui $\t\pe(Ti StaroiZopevoi' Tovto St, kOivmvoi twv ovrojg
avcKTTpetyofXtviov yevriOevreg. Kat yap rote Seapoig pov ovvtTraOri-